SQL Server Skills Development Running Wild

This last weekend I was binge-watching a show that really caught my interest: "Running Wild with Bear Grylls." The theme of this show is about a very capable outdoor survivalist and ex-SAS serviceman who takes a Hollywood A-list celebrity on an outdoor adventure that tests their mental and physical boundaries. I watched the likes of Kate Hudson, Rob Riggle, Ben Stiller, and Cara Delevingne all take on challenges that were way outside their comfort zone, but they pushed themselves to complete the journey.

Through this process, they learned a lot about themselves, their past experiences, and how they achieved what they had in life so far. Also, as a result of their adventures, they found that they had a new experience and skill that they could now register as "achieved."

Running Wild Movie CoverIn episode after episode, I saw a parallel to what I observe in the Microsoft Data Platform community every day. Many accomplished subject matter experts make themselves available to up-and-coming data professionals so that they can take on the challenge of learning new things about their capabilities and the latest tech around them. This provides the controlled learning environment for the "student" to stretch their abilities under the watchful eye of the "master."
When faced with a daunting task like rappelling alongside a waterfallor crossing a freezing river on a ropethe celebrities found themselves defaulting to the expertise of the professional. Bear would explain the technique to the celebrity, including the things to doand what not to doto make the challenge a success. In every case, the student had to trust the expert, execute the task as instructed, and bask in his or her new skill.

There are many "Running Wild" opportunities in the SQL Server and Data Platform world. From the annual PASS Summit to the plethora of SQLSaturdays, the opportunity abounds to sharpen your skills. Whether it is learning performance tuning techniques from the very talented SQLskills team at SQL Immersion and SQLintersection, watching a video session by Brent Ozar, attending the training days at SQLBits, or being fortunate enough to participate in DataGrillin, there is no shortage of events and conferences to learn from the many experts in the Microsoft Data Platform global ecosystem.

Microsoft itself does not stand by passively in this effort to promote new skills and disseminate information regarding new tech. There are numerous videos, conferences, and events that feature subject matter experts like Bob Ward, Buck Woody, and Anna Hoffman, freely sharing what they know and how it applies to the world of data. Learning the various aspects of Power BI has never been easier thanks to the prolific videos from the dynamic duo Adam Saxton and Patrick Leblanc, or more famously known as Guy in a Cube.

The great thing about most training situations, the master can also learn from the student. In one episode, free solo climber Alex Honnold used his ability to free climb a cliff to set a top-rope anchor for Bear to scale the same slope. Bear couldn't have done this task with the skills he had. He was dependent on the "student" to use his skills to advance them through that segment of the challenge. This is a perfect illustration of the symbiotic nature of a learning environment.

Getting out of your comfort zone is unsettling and scary. Having an expert or mentor to help you through this process can help give you the confidence and support you need to push forward to acquiring a new skill. Improving and developing skills can help one advance in an organization, or it can position you to do your current role better and more efficiently. It's up to you to determine what learning opportunity is right for you, and who best to be with you as you challenge yourself. It's not always easy to learn new skills, but there are many experts in the community that are happy to teach you what they know if you are willing.

So, how are you going to let your skills run wild in 2020?

Nick (@nicharsh) is the Senior Vice President of Cloud Alliances for SentryOne and is responsible for leading the SentryOne relationships with Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and other cloud providers. Prior to joining SentryOne, Nick was Vice President of National & Strategic Accounts for Dictaphone - Healthcare Division. Previous experience includes sales management positions with Computer Associates, NEC Computer USA, Tegra Varityper, and Heath/Zenith Computer Systems. Nick holds a BA degree in Economics from University of Dayton in Dayton, OH.